18. High Tech isn’t an instant win button.
Disclaimer: This is a work of Fan Fiction, I make no claims to the Ownership of BtVS, Stargate, or NBSG. All belong to their respective creators.A/N
Special thanks to Gideon for the beta read.
As always; 'speech' Caprican, "Speech" English.
Cameron Mitchell kept a tight rein on his temper, despite his sudden reassignment he didn’t want to screw up on his first day. He had only had enough time to skim the rumour mill about his new assignment but he didn’t like what little he had found. He had gone from being in a squadron of F-16’s to what was, according to the rumour mill, a ground based black ops unit. Why he was being assigned to a ground unit he had no clue. He had spent the past day trying to think of whom he had pissed off enough for them to shaft his career this way.
It was a topic that had occupied his time since his departure from Tampa all the way to area 51. At least this unit had the pull to allow him to keep the fighter that had been assigned to him with him. That was something. It gave Cameron hope that he would be able to keep his number of flight hours up, and not have to re qualify once this assignment was completed. The only other ray of hope that he had was that the base didn’t seem like a ground pounder base. If anything it looked more like a testing area.
Cameron had walked past a hanger with a type of fighter he had never seen before inside of it. Perhaps this SGC-S place was only attached to the SGC as a cover. It would make things more difficult for anyone who was looking for experimental aircraft if they had to search through the Air Forces ground units as well as their flying units. So he kept his temper in check and his mouth closed. After all he had yet to get his first briefing, the rumour mill could be completely off base.
“Room, tench-HUT!” a Sergeant barked out. Cameron jerked to attention automatically, not bothering to scan the room for the senior officer he knew was coming.
“At ease, my name is Lt. General Vidrine,” the general said as he strode to the front of the room. “Accompanying me from the RAF is Brigadier Wyndam. For those of you who don’t know what is going on he is here to lay it out for you.”
“Thank you General,” Wyndam’s British accent was cool and precise. “As you all know during Earth’s exploration of the galaxy there have been several points of contact with advanced races. What you are not aware of is that there has been an advanced race with observers on earth.”
The room erupted in noise as that was announced. Cameron looked around and noticed that the announcement of aliens seemed to be an old hand for most of the people in the room. That there were aliens active on earth on the other hand caused pandemonium to break out.
“QUIET!” General Vidrine bellowed. “You are officers and scientists of the United States air force, act like it!”
“As I was saying,” Wyndam continued once the room had settled. “The Crown has been in contact with this race for quite some time. They were waiting for Earth to develop native space flight before getting in contact with other nations but events have rather forced their hand. Upon their discovery of the SGC they have decided to give us a leg up.”
“As the USAF has the most experience working with alien technology we were chosen to evaluate the fighters that these aliens have sold to us.” Vidrine growled out. “Should they prove to be worthwhile we will also be assessing the home built version of the same fighter that these aliens are working on providing us blue prints for. Keep in mind that this is a parallel program to the X-302, not a replacement.”
“All governments currently in the know recognize that a home built fighter based on technology that we understand would be best,” Wyndam said his voice grave. “Unfortunately events have conspired against us in that regard. Earth needs defence, and this will allow us time to build up our own native space defence industry.”
“The RAF team will be arriving in the next week,” Vidrine took up the narrative. “The delivery dates on the fighters themselves are less clear at this time. You all have the spec sheet, look over them carefully. I want these fighters tested hard; we need to know what exactly we’re getting, the strengths and weaknesses. Major Mitchell is here both to fly the fighter and to fly as an aggressor.”
“The RAF contingent is bringing the latest European fighters as aggressors, they’ll be flying a Grippen, Euro Fighter 2000, and a Mirage 2000. Whilst command believes that the variety of fighters we are putting up against these Viper mark sevens should give us a good baseline on performance it would behove you all to remember that the Viper is a space platform.” Wyndam said softly.
“As my colleague here pointed out, this will be the first trial of its kind. Remember that you are going to be writing the book on evaluating space capable fighters,” General Vidrine said looking around the room with a hard look in his eyes. “I don’t care how much we need these fighters, you make damn sure that they’re going to do the job. I do not want a repeat of the X-301 fiasco. Do you read me?”
“Sir, yes sir!”
The past week had been weird. Buffy was still getting used to operating with a reduced support team. She hadn’t realized just how much work everyone did behind the scenes. She missed the easy comradery and the ease that her support team provided. Hell Buffy even missed the daily fight with Sharon when she went to the CDR building to get the reports from the Centurions on the nightly activity. That didn’t even take into account that Willow was gone. Buffy hadn’t realized just how isolated from the rest of the student body she was. Without Willow and Xander school was a very lonely place.
Of course there were compensations for not having her support team here. She had gotten to spar with another slayer and having a second watcher had made the research end of things easier on Giles. The sparing was what she appreciated the most. Working out with Kendra was a challenge. The other girl was technically perfect; forcing Buffy to improvise at a pace she had never before reached if she wanted to win their matches. Much to her surprise fighting vampires had gotten easier. Sparing with another slayer was good for her, letting her refine and hone her technique to a whole new level.
Patrols were another change. Since the discovery of the Takarans she and Kendra had patrolled with a Centurion escort. While that meant they met fewer vampires, the vampires had gotten smart and now departed any area when they heard the approaching sounds of the Centurions, it did make staking fledges easier. The Centurions sensor systems allowed the Slayers to know just which fledges were going to rise first. It made for early nights, which was nice.
“So we Bronzing it tonight, or are you going to call it an early night again tonight,” Buffy asked her fellow slayer. She had been trying to get the other girl out of her shell but it wasn’t an easy thing to do.
“I have heard that the hunting there is good,” Kendra responded in her typical manner. It infuriated Buffy that the other girl didn’t seem to think about anything but slaying.
“Well, yes, but it’s also fun,” Buffy rolled her eyes. “You can’t live just by killing things.”
“The slaying is a calling, a sacred duty,” Kendra’s voice became stubborn. “To ignore it is to betray the trust of all those who have gone before us.”
“I’m not telling you to stop slaying,” Buffy huffed. She didn’t know why this idea was so hard to get across. “I’m saying that you need to live a little. Letting slaying define everything about your life is a good way to get yourself killed.”
“As is not taking it seriously enough,” Kendra retorted.
“You’re both right, but you’re going to get yourselves killed by not paying attention long before either of the issues you raised become a problem,” Cordelia strode into the grave yard and interrupted their conversation.
“What’s up?” Buffy asked nonchalantly.
“The wonder twins finally figured out the Du Lac stuff,” Cordelia answered with an acidic tone. “Looks like Spike has been collecting babies for a ritual.”
“Babies?” Buffy’s eyes widened in horror.
“Oh, this is bloody precious,” Spike crowed. “Here's to unintentional side effects.”
“Boss?” Dalton asked cautiously. Spike had been in a bad mood for days. With two Slayers working the Hellmouth and those Armoured Death things out there the vampire population had been in decline recently. Despite his status as one of the only master vampires around to even think about challenging the forces of light Spike was hurting for minions.
“Nipped over to the Army base for a couple of bites to eat,” Spike smirked out. “Figured if we were going up against those Armoured Death blokes then we needed some people with the know how to take them.”
“Military? Aren’t you the one who told me to steer well clear of them?” Dalton asked mildly.
“Yeah, time to time they get it into their heads that they’re demon hunters. Took out a team in Rangoon about a year after I notched up my first Slayer kill. Besides getting shot may not kill us but it stings like you wouldn’t believe.” Spike shrugged as he said that. “Given what’s been happening here though…”
“Disposable troops.” Dalton nodded his head in agreement.
“Too right. Best part is they come with their own weapons,” Spike took a swig out of his flask. “Don’t have to spend more money trying to find a gun that’ll punch through those Armoured Death’s suits.”
“You think they have one?” Dalton felt his eyebrows rise.
“I know they have one. Turns out one of the blokes worked in the armoury on the base. Had him nip back there for a bit and bring us some prezzies. He found us a rocket launcher, called it an anti tank weapon. That will take one of them out.”
“That is good news.” Dalton thought for a moment on how to phrase his question before just plunging in and asking it. “And the rest of them?”
“Who cares? They’ve got their rifles but I doubt those are going to do enough damage. Took a bit of work to get them that much. Point is we have something to use against the bloody Armoured Death.”
“And the Slayers?”
“Terakans are working on it,” Spike shook his head in disgust. “They did drive off most of the star men. They’ll get the job done. Now how goes the ritual?”
“I found a church to hold it in and I’ve got the babies.” Dalton shook his head. Getting the babies had been a real pain. He had been forced to do it himself after the first three minions he had sent had indulged rather then bringing them back as they were supposed to. Then he had to do it over again after one of the demons that he had hired to care for the little brats had decided to have a bite to eat. He had been forced to take over their care himself. Despite being a minion Dalton still had some pride, he was a Vampire not a babysitter damn it. He couldn’t wait until this was over and done with.
“Good,” Spike said as he refilled his flask. “Bloody well want this over with. I know we need the little blighters but they stink, and the noise! Bit much on the old enhanced senses.”
“Tell me about it,” Dalton muttered under his breath.
“With Dru back we can finally start moving,” Spike grinned. “The ‘mouth will be mine.”
“So father, why are you calling me?” Brigadier Wyndam said easily as he finished the last of his paperwork on the Cylon fighter testing. With everything that would be happening at the MoD involving aliens he felt that it was best to get the paperwork done and over with well in advance. With the changes that being involved with the SGC would bring he wanted his service to get the first crack in. Doing his paperwork was a major part of that.
“We got the report from Sam Zabuto today,” his father’s voice was calm and collected but failed to hide the underlying tension. “It seems that these Cylons are a result of someone being a very naughty boy, and dear Rupert hiding that fact.”
“That… is interesting,” Wyndam set down what he was doing and chewed on his lip. “I remember Rupert, he was a nice kid. Even when he went through his rebellious phase. I was rather surprised that he joined the Council after all.”
“He got mixed up in some rather dodgy things,” the older man’s voice was grim. “The Council offered protection that he couldn’t find anywhere else after his father cut him off from Devon.”
“He cut his child off from Devon?” the Brigadier froze as he heard that. Its implications were more then a bit worrying. Who in their right mind would not want the foremost coven in the world looking at their magical problem.
“A rather sordid tale.”
“I gather, we’ll have to talk about it over drinks when I get back to London. You were saying?”
“Quite right, business before gossip after all. Some of his group got caught up in the madness of Halloween and it stuck.”
Thinking about it Wyndam decided that this would be to his and his government’s advantage. Despite what Hammond had said he was well aware that England would be getting the short end of the technological stick from the Americans. He had wondered just how he could twist the situation to his advantage without any leverage beyond the old watchers journals. That this whole mess was the result of a chaos spell opened more then a few opportunities.
He would have to fly to Sunnydale, but that was something that he could deal with. Now that he knew these Cylons needed something from the Watchers he could bargain. The Crown was well versed in keeping the Council in line. As a member of the British military he could offer them cover that the Watchers would instinctively deny. Considering the international implications of this situation it wouldn’t do to let those idiots in the Council screw this up.
“I rather hope Sam’s ravings have been edited out of his report. He is a good man, but rather excitable at times. Given the delicacy of our international position it wouldn’t do for anyone to leap to conclusions.” The Brigadiers pronouncement was met with silence for a moment.
“I see…” His fathers voice was soft. “Rather a delicate time isn’t it? It seems that Wesley is being sent to Sunnydale.”
“Wesley? My nephew?” Wyndam felt his eyebrows rise, and then he grinned evilly. “I wouldn’t be surprised if the bureaucrats were rather hard on you until I get back. It seems that the budget has been thrown completely out of whack by these developments. I should be able to smooth things over but… first I need to talk with the Cylons. You know how they are about changes in arrangements.”
“It’s always a good thing to have all the information before you make a move,” His father accepted the implicit offer. “I trust you will look after him. The boy is a bit too much like his father but he has a good heart.”
“Of course, he is family.”
Glowering over his desk Robert Kinsey repressed his desire to snarl at the NID agent who had come to give him his briefing. That another country was being involved in the Stargate program was an affront. Worse the dumb grunts in the military hadn’t bothered to ask their civilian oversight for permission, they had just done it. Kinsey knew that the SGC was critical to maintaining the United States edge over its enemies and those idiots had just thrown part of that away. Yes the British were allies, but the United States needed to be in the lead of any alliance in order to insure that things were done correctly.
It bothered him that the SGC had moved as quickly as they had. He and others could have used this opening to their advantage. What was the president thinking! Letting the military do this without involving the senate or at least professional diplomats. As annoying as the situation was he could see ways to increase his own power from it. He would just have to butter up his faction at the Pentagon.
“So, please summarise the report on the British project and how it intersected with the SGC,” Kinsey growled out.
“Senator, it’s a bit complicated. We became aware of the British project following the Sunnydale incident.” Malcom Barret said letting that speak for itself. The Sunnydale incident had become the talk of the intelligence community. No one was quite sure what it meant but everyone was reactivating their own alien hunter programs because of it. They now had proof that there was life out there.
“I’m well aware of the implications of that cluster fuck,” Kinsey said sourly. “Continue.”
“Yes sir, the SGC kept a bird on Sunnydale while everyone else rotated theirs to try and find the big ship. Because of that they found out that the Aliens had a terrestrial presence and dispatched SG1 to make contact with them. SG1 managed their mission, but in the course of several misunderstandings discovered that the British had an organization monitoring for Goa’uld infiltration as well as contact with the new aliens. Although calling them new would be a lie.” Barrett paused to let that sink in.
“How is it that we didn’t know that the Brits knew about the Goa’uld?” Kinsey asked, his eyes narrowing. “The basic brief on the SGC mentions that the dig which recovered the Stargate was funded by a British intelligence organ.”
“Because the organ in question is all about the sub terrestrial threat, not extra terrestrial.” Barett grimaced as he admitted that.
“Colloquially called demons. We’ve come up against them from time to time but mostly they haven’t been on our radar.”
“We have a demon problem and it’s not on our radar? How is that possible?”
“Because while they are individually dangerous as a group they tend to be self limiting. Basically they kill each other off faster then we could ever kill them according to our records. The expense in both men and materials was deemed too great for the results obtained.”
“So in the past we have fought them.”
“Yes sir, but as I said it was deemed a waste of time. Very high casualties count for minimal improvements. The British do better, but they spend a lot of money on the problem. They have a well established intelligence network and use that coupled with four to six combat teams to police the entire world.”
“So you’re saying that these demons, or hostile sub terrestrials aren’t worth our time.”
“Exactly sir, most of them are handled on a local level. While dangerous they aren’t a clear threat.”
“Tell me about the British organization.”
“It’s old, and very well connected. Self funded and run on the old boys networks that they have over there. You know the one.”
“I hate dealing with those people.” Kinsey growled. He really hated them, they always viewed him as a jumped up upstart with no sense of decorum or real power. Worse they made him feel small and unimportant. He was a United States senator damn it, he had power. “How sure are we about this intelligence?”
“Very,” Barette slid a pair of photos out of the folder he was holding. “This is Ethan Wyndam Sr. He’s on the board of the Watchers Council. Mostly retired but recently he’s been reported to be getting back in the game. From what little the Brits have let on, the Stargate and Goa’uld have brought him out of retirement. We think he was in charge of their project blue book and dealing with aliens. Because we discovered a hostile species his position has changed from one of semi retirement, basically a place to stash an old warhorse without forcing him out, back into the limelight.”
“So the Brits project was small?” Kinsey asked in surprise.
“We believe so,” Barette said firmly. “Because the aliens had come to them it was mostly just checking in and talking. Unlike us the Brits were not going out into the galaxy and exploring. We hadn’t seen any evidence of uplift or the British receiving technical advancement until recently.”
“Hadn’t, past tense. What changed?”
“Recent reports from the SGC on the Dradis system,” Barette said ruefully. “Their detection grid and style of display is identical to radar. Due to this anomaly we looked over Watson-Watts team rooster and found that a member of the Watchers was on his team. Specifically a Leslie Wyndam, remember that name it comes up almost every time we look for evidence of prior Cylon interaction with Earth based powers. Speculation is that the Brits convinced the Cylons to give them a hand up in miniaturizing radar.”
“So the aliens caused the Brits to get airborne radar before us?”
“We don’t think so. My team speculated that the assistants was more along the lines of a couple of formulas at most. We could be wrong though. The discovery of the Cylons has us scrambling to re-evaluate everything that we think we know.”
“Point. Continue please.”
“Our second person of interest is Brigadier Ethan Wyndam the second. He was a bomber pilot before he became too senior to fly, Vulcans. Generally well respected in the military, both theirs, and ours, but not well known. He seems to have become the contact person between the British Government and the Watchers as prior members of his family were.”
“Vulcans… Strategic bombers.” Kinsey shook his head. “It makes sense. No one puts an idiot or untrustworthy soul in one of those.”
“If these Cylons had a long historical connection to the British why are they in California?”
“Near as we can tell? Something caused them to change their position on technical uplift. Their team in California is actively disseminating technological improvements. We think it’s a policy shift that originated at home. The end result is they needed an area where they wouldn’t be noticed introducing high tech concepts and solutions.”
“Silicon Valley.” Kinsey shook his head. “They fit right in and we would never have known they were aliens if they didn’t screw up their team rotation.”
“You know I really don’t get why Helo’s having so much trouble. He was fine when we went down to the planet,” Faith commented as she looked out of the battery control bubble. Helo’s Viper had just tumbled past leaving the youngsters snickering. After the last few days all of the teens had taken to meeting here and watching Athena and Helo work on their flying. Except for Jonathan who was learning how to fly a Raptor.
Helo had rigged up a control interface for one of the Centurions, letting the Cylon fly the Raptor. After they had proven that it worked and the Centurion could control the Raptor they had allowed Jonathan to start flying so long as he took a Centurion with him. Faith had also expressed an interest in flying but had been told that it would have to wait until she was older. Willow and Andrew didn’t think they would be any good flying, but had been doing a bit of training on the EO station. If Faith and Jonathan ever flew in combat they would have EO’s to back them up. Not that Helo or Athena wanted the kids anywhere near combat, but they both believed in being prepared.
“They’re flying with the auto stabilization software turned down to the minimum level,” Andrew commented. “I asked Jonathan about it. It’s like in Star Wars when Luke is training, Yoda has him lifting an X wing when the most he usually lifts is his lightsaber.”
“Train harder so that the fights are easier,” Faith commented with a roll of her eyes. She was beginning to see why Helo took so much joy in freaking out Andy. He could be really annoying.
“Helo!” Willow exclaimed, looking up from where the data tablet she had been watching. She and Andrew had looped the telemetry and audio from the central computer into the tablet in order to keep track of what Helo and Sharon were doing.
“What’s he doing?” Faith asked mildly. Willow just flipped on the audio, a computerized voice overlaying the sounds of Helo and Sharon's voices. It sounded like one of the Centurions was running a translation from Caprican to English for Willow.
‘FRAK, Fraking piece of Gemonese made shit!’ Helo’s voice filled the gun bubble.
‘Having trouble dear.’
‘Laugh it up…’
“And he gets on me about my language,” Faith shook her head.
“Not when you’re training,” Willow reminded the younger girl in a soft voice.
‘Beginning my run now, watch how a real pilot does it Helo.’
“Isn’t Helo a pilot? I always thought he was like Han Solo,” Andrew asked as they watched Athena’s Viper begin its aerobatic run.
“Nah, boy’s more like Chewy. Does all the tech shit.” Faith commented.
“He can fly but he isn’t good at it.” Willow agreed.
“I wouldn’t say Chewy then, more Booster Terrik,” Andrew nodded his head in understanding.
“Who the fuck’s that?” Faith asked distracted as she watched Athena complete her run. There was a beauty in the flight that she hadn’t seen anywhere on Earth. The closest she could come to describing it was that the flight was like watching Dolphins swim under water. Not that she had ever seen that, but she had seen videos.
“He was the father of Mirax Horn from the X-wing books.” Andrew answered. “Star Wars expanded universe.”
“Take your word for it,” Faith said dryly. She had learned not to argue with Andy over anything sci-fi. She shared a look with Willow and rolled her eyes.
“I still can’t believe the complexity of their programs,” Willow ignored the byplay and concentrated. “Everyone says that their base computers aren’t as good as Earths but their flight computers are phenomenal.”
“Tell me about it,” Andrew rolled his eyes in frustration. “The inconsistencies in their tech base don’t make sense! Dradis is hyper advanced but their computers are old. Hyper drives and sub light drives but they still use projectile weapons. Hell Fred kicked me out of the labs two days ago because she’s been working on adapting Dradis to a hypercom system. It’s like they got to a plateau and froze their technology.”
“Wait Fred kicked you out of the labs two days ago?” Faith asked. “Have you seen her since then? Have any of you seen her?”
Jenny Calendar watched the two vans drive away from the CRD building with some trepidation. Cordelia was already pacing, her tension broadcasting throughout the empty building. Say what you would about the new Watcher, god knew she had said enough about the arrogant conceited man, he was both smart and a good tactical planner. Jenny agreed with him that it would be best to have their two weakest fighters stay out of the battle tonight. Cordelia was strong, but she lacked the drive to be a good fighter. Words and politics were her weapons of choice, and so it made sense for her to stay behind to guard Jenny.
The problem was that Cordelia felt responsible for her people. The Centurions were the bulk of her people and she wasn’t going to be joining them in battle. No bio Cylon was. Cordelia had sent off the CRD staff as soon as the information about the Tarakans came out, keeping her people well away from the fray. Jenny approved of her new attitude, but at times like this it could be a pain. Jenny didn’t think that any of the Centurions were in danger tonight, but that belief would do little to calm the other woman’s nerves.
“I get that it’s a good plan,” Cordelia stopped pacing and began to verbalize her thoughts. She had started to do so around Jenny recently. She had found that Jenny was a person that she could confide in without anything she said getting back to Buffy or Giles. “I don’t like that it requires me to be here while the others are in danger. Yes I might ruin my new outfit but I would rather that and know that everything worked out then sit here worrying.”
“What exactly worries you about this plan?” Jenny inquired gently. It was always best to let Cordelia work things out on her own.
“That Zabuto jerk’s assumption that Spike isn’t smart enough to come up with a way to hurt the Centurions. He’s using two of them as bait.” Cordelia stated grimly. “To him they aren’t people, just resources. That’s both the wrong attitude to take with them and it’s stupid.”
“Sam views everyone as a resource,” Jenny pointed out mildly. “He is a Watcher of the old school.”
“I know that, he’s worse about the Centurions,” Cordelia shook her head. “His attitude is way too similar to the Colonial attitude for me to be comfortable around him. Machines, not people. He actually had the gall to say that to me!”
“I understand, but he is using the Slayers the same way,” Jenny commented dryly.
“No he’s not! The Slayers get back up in the form of a pair of Centurions a piece and their Watchers. He’s using my people to cover his approach with the vans.” Cordelia’s eyes flashed with anger as she said that. “I just hope he’s not dumb enough to think that he can give the Centurions orders.”
“Who else could have provided the distraction? You’re a victim of your own success here. The Centurions will focus all of the vamps attention on themselves,” Jenny shrugged as she said that.
“Then he should have gone with a single Centurion per Slayer,” Cordelia put in mulishly.
“Cordelia, it will be all right, you gave your own orders to the Centurions. They’re smart enough to follow you and disregard what Sam says if it conflicts.”
“I know, I’m just worried.”
Sam Zabuto drove calmly towards the church where they had determined that tonight’s confrontation would occur. Mentally he went over the plan yet again. Cordelia’s loud and long argument with him had been private, but he wanted to check his thinking one last time before he committed. She might be an arrogant bitch but the woman was smart. Two Centurions would march up to the church, distracting the vampires inside, while the Slayers and the remainder of their force drove to the other side of the church. He had been forced to accept that they needed to drive to maintain stealth for this operation. Otherwise the Slayers would be without Centurions support. Marching Centurions were just too loud to sneak up on vampires. By driving to the Church the majority of the noise would be eliminated. Not only that but the Slayers would be fresh. It was always best to have well rested fighters before a major fight.
Archie might be a new vamp but he had risen to sergeant in the United States Army. He knew how the game was played. From where he was sitting he and his squad were about going to be proper fucked after this little brouhaha was over and done with. That annoying ass Spike seemed to view the soldier vamps he had created with nothing but contempt. He might need their weapons expertise now but as soon as this was over he was undoubtedly going to clean up. Meaning that Archie needed to find a way out.
The Dalton fellow looked like a possibility. He was a thinking vamp after all, not a fighter. If Archie could convince him to come over to his side then he might have a shot of making this whole living forever thing work. Otherwise he would be dust in the wind. He and his guys just didn’t know enough about the whole magic/demon deal to make their way on their own, yet. They could take any humans that came around, but other demons would be a bit difficult.
After talking it over with his squad Archie had come to the conclusion that these vampires were fucking amateurs. They talked a good game, all humans bad and shit, but they were chicken shit on the execution. Hell one little girl kept the entire community in line through fear. A human girl, teenager at that, keeping him and his boys in line? Fuck that. They would shoot her ass and move on. Soon as they took out these Armoured Death things they would be heroes of the underworld. Well, at least they would have generated enough fear to convince the other demons to back off a bit. If they took out the Slayer too, well then they would be set for the next couple of years or so. Hell look at that Spike character, he was still riding his last Slayer kill twenty years after the fact.
Before Archie could organize his thoughts further he heard the crashing sound signifying that the Armoured Death were approaching. He gave a tight-lipped smile and looked around at the group Spike had gathered to fight them. Frankly he wasn’t that impressed. Most of the other vamps were poseurs of one stripe or another. They were strong physically but they didn’t know how to fight as a group. Only one of them was any real threat to him, and he intended that one to die in the confrontation.
“They’re coming,” Dalton spoke firmly. Every vamp had learned that he was Spike’s mouthpiece so no one fucked with him. “Archie’s in command, get this done.”
“Right,” Archie gave the other minion a tight nod. “Mac, you’re on the left with the AT4. Vlad you and your group back him up. Everyone else, stick to the right.” The back blast from the AT4 would take care of Vlad and his sycophants.
Despite the rumbling of discontent from the vamps who weren’t in his group Archie got everyone moving and in position quickly. If any other vamp had organized this they would have just hung out in the middle of the street. Archie though was a trained soldier. He thought in terms of cover. So he got the unarmed vamps to build two half barricades, basically just piles of junk, for everyone to hide behind. It didn’t take them long, supernatural strength was good for something after all. They finished just as the Armoured Death came into view.
Archie narrowed his eyes as he watched the two Armoured Death stalk down the street. They were awfully confident if they had only sent two. Personally it didn’t matter to him, he and his boys would take them out. Still one of them looked like it had been improved. It had a pair of pipes sticking up from its back. Archie chewed his lip as he considered that. The pipes looked like vent stacks, the sort of thing that was on an APC or Hummer, which probably indicated that it had a more powerful engine. Comparing the two visually he noted that it didn’t have more armour, so it was probably faster. That meant for sensitive internal components. Good thing it was on his side of the street, with more sensitive innards the rifles would have an easier time screwing something up in there.
Mac opened the engagement beautifully. His AT4 shot was textbook, and the rocket slammed into the middle of the Armoured Death’s chest blowing it into a million pieces. Archie grinned as he saw that and rose, pouring fire into the remaining Armoured Death to give Mac a chance to reload. That’s when things began to go wrong. Instead of firing back, or charging, like he had expected the Armoured Death pulled one of the pipes off its back and hurled it at Mac. It took the fire from Archie’s squad in favour of taking down Mac. The tubes turned out to be Molotov cocktails mounted on tubing.
Mac’s shot had taken out most of his backup. Like Archie had planned Vlad and his group had been caught in the back blast from the rocket. More died in a fireball as the spear impacted. The last of that group died when the fire set off the reload. Archie grimaced but accepted that as the cost of doing business. He had expected this to take out more then a few of the vamps running with him tonight. Still it looked like his squads fire was beginning to hurt the Armoured Death.
Its movements, which had been smooth and graceful, had become clunky. Even as it pulled out its second Molotov one of its legs gave out. Archie ignored the shouts of triumph from the other vamps and reloaded. It wasn’t out of the fight yet. It hurled its second Molotov spear as its other leg gave out. Archie noted its trajectory and rolled to the left. He had seen how effective fire was against vamps and he had no intention of being there when that bomb went off.
Throwing his leg out so he didn’t roll into the still burning fire that had been Macs position he fired off the rest of his magazine. The Armoured Death didn’t make a sound but the red light that seemed to serve as its eyes went out and it crashed forward onto its face. Archie rose and looked around. It seemed that he was the last vamp left in the ambush group. Spike hadn’t been lying about how effective these things were. With a twisted grin he reached into one of his pockets and pulled out a hacksaw. The thing might be metal but he was going to have a head for his new trophy wall.
Still it wouldn’t do to get careless at this late a date. Holding the saw in one hand he advanced on the fallen Armoured Death. Instead of getting close and trying to take its head he pulled out his side arm and shot it at a distance of four feet. When it didn’t react he nodded to himself. He had killed it. He advanced and knelt down to start sawing at its neck. The Armoured Death reacted then; it popped up on one arm. The last thing Archie ever saw was its other arm, and a blade like hand, reaching for his neck.
“That’s a lot of noise,” Buffy said as the two vans screeched to a stop. It sounded like world war three had broken out on the other side of the church. It seemed that Spike had kept up his efforts to arm his minions and the Centurions were paying the price for it. The Centurions who had been in the vans slammed out of the doors and sprinted to the church. They didn’t slow down for anything, opting to smash through the windows rather then take the time to go through the door.
Buffy and Kendra followed them. Despite being faster then the Centurions they got a later start and were less inclined to take shortcuts. They simply kicked the doors in. What they found when the entered the church was chaos. Two Centurions had squared off against Spikes Minions while the other two were fighting the Tarakans. Buffy didn’t hesitate when she saw one of the Tarakans dissolve into a pile of bugs.
She ignored the vampires and sprinted over to the bugs. The Centurion would watch her back and it wasn’t equipped to deal with this. She was. In preparation for this fight she had armed herself with two cans of Raid and two cans of hair spray. If the Raid didn’t work she would use the hairspray as improvised flamethrowers. The Raid did seem to have some effect but it wasn’t working fast enough. Buffy found herself stomping on the maggots and dropping the Raid in favour of one of the cans of hair spray and a lighter. That worked.
By the time she looked up from her self appointed task of vanquishing bug guy the tide of the fight had turned. The Vampires were retreating but still holding a line between her and Spike. The other Tarakan was in pieces; evidently the Centurion had lost its temper with him. Buffy thought about reaching for her stake but decided to test out her hairspray flamethrower on vampires. She threw herself into to middle of a knot of the leaches and spun, letting the flames immolated anything that got close to her.
The improvised flamethrower turned out to be an astonishing success. Buffy couldn’t figure out why she had never tried this before. Vampires were extremely flammable and almost as soon as they were hit they would dust. Her inner Slayer didn’t like the method, but she forced it down. What mattered now was how effective she was not how satisfied. It was times like this that she really didn’t like her inner slayer. The almost uncontrollable impulse to beat the vampires was a real pain when she had found a perfect way to kill them. Especially since this way would really cut down on her wardrobe loss.
Then she found the flaw in her plan. The hairspray ran out. Buffy was kicked back before she could ready the second can, losing it in the process of rolling to her feet. She drew her stake and charged back towards the fray.
“It’s done, lets get out of here!” Came a cry from Spike. Just like that the Vampires broke and began to scatter. The Centurions chased after them, Buffy was about to join them when she noticed that there were babies lying on the floor. She forced herself to stop and go check on them. It wouldn’t do for her to have fought this battle and not save the babies since it sounded like she had failed to stop the ritual. Much to her surprise Kendra joined her.
“They are alright,” Kendra said from where she was comforting one of the babies. “They have runes carved into their skin but they are alive.”
“We should get them to the Watchers,” Buffy picked up two of the babies herself. “They will know what to do with them.”